Game of Thrones – Counting of the actantial roles

Analysis of Game of Thrones script
PDF, 143 pages

What makes Game of Thrones the most watched series in the world ?
Probably the great quality of its scenario.
Hundreds of thrilling plots.
A vast, complex narrative architecture.
Hundreds of realistic, colorful, contrasted characters.
Here is the complete scenario analysis of the 20 first episodes of the queen of the series.

The actantial roles of the characters

It is difficult to count the actantial roles, since it is difficult to count the plots. We can still try to count them within the around 40 major plots we previously identified.

King’s Landing and the Lannisters

Stark Hand of the King

  • Stark lord of Winterfell and old friend of the King

Hero: Stark. Goal: to name Stark Hand of the King. Mentor: King Robert.

  • Stark Hand of the King

Hero: Stark. Goal: to obey the King, to be a worthy Hand of the King.

Antagonists: the Council (Varys, Littlefinger, Aemon), Queen Cersei, and King Robert.

  • Stark investigates on the bastards of Robert and the murder of Jon Arryn

Hero: Stark. Goal: to discover the truth about Robert’s bastards, Joffrey’s real parents and Jon Arryn’s murder.

Helper: Pycelle, Littlefinger.

Antagonists: Cersei and some members of the Council.

Joffrey, son of incest Jaime / Cersei – Bran mute, Stark investigator

  • Bran witness of the incest Jaime/Cersei

Hero: Bran. Goal: to climb, then to shut up. Antagonist: Jaime. Helper of the Antagonist: Cersei. Their goal: to kill, to make Bran shut up.

Tyrion’s travel

  • Tyrion in mission in the North

Hero: Tyrion. Goal: to accomplish a mission towards Mormont. Antagonist: Catelyn.

  • Tyrion prisoner

Hero: Tyrion. Goal: to break free. Helper: Bronn. Antagonist: Catelyn and Lysa Arryn.

  • Tyrion finds partners

Hero: Tyrion. Goal: to have a team to be able to be a good Hand of the King. Helpers: Bronn, Shagga, Shae.

Tyrion Hand of the King

  • Tyrion politician and libertine Regent

Hero: Tyrion. Goal: to be a good Hand of the King. Mentor: Tywin.

Helpers: Bronn and Shae. Antagonists: Cersei, Joffrey, the Council.

  • Tyrion strategist and warlord

Hero: Tyrion. Goal: to defend King’s Landing. Mentor: the expert of Greek fire. Antagonist: Stannis and his fleet.

The family Stark

Bran Stark

  • Bran bad at shooting arrows but excellent climber.

Hero: Bran. Goal: to climb. Skeptical: Catelyn. Antagonist: Jaime and Cersei.

  • Bran in a coma

Hero: Bran. Goal: to survive. Helpers: his family members who watch him. Antagonist: the fact that Bran be in a coma.

  • Bran convalescent

Hero: Bran. Helpers: his family. Goal: to tell the truth? Antagonists: Jaime and Cersei.

  • Bran under threat then on the run

Hero: Bran. Goal: to resist Theon. Helpers: Osha, Hodor, Luwin. Antagonist: Theon.

Sansa Stark

  • Sansa promised to Joffrey and in love

Hero: Sansa. Goal: to love and marry Joffrey. Helpers: Joffrey, Cersei, Eddard and Catelyn. Antagonist: none.

  • Joffrey and Arya argue

Hero: Arya. Goal: to resist Joffrey. Helper: her wolf. Hero’s Mentor: Stark. Antagonist: Joffrey. Goal of the Antagonist: to punish Arya and have her wolf killed. Mentor of the Antagonist: Cersei.

  • Joffrey and Sansa reconcile

Hero: Joffrey. Goal: to seek reconciliation with Sansa. Briefly Antagonist then Helper: Sansa.

  • Sansa bullied by Joffrey

Hero: Sansa. Goal: to resist. Antagonist: Joffrey. Goal of the Antagonist: to bully Sansa.

  • Sansa hostage

Hero: Sansa. Goal: to save her life. Helpers: Tyrion, the Hound. Antagonists: Joffrey and Cersei.

Arya Stark

  • The wild kid

Hero: Arya. Goal: to bother her brother and sister. Antagonists: Bran, Sansa. Helpers of the Antagonists: Catelyn and Robb.

  • The rebel to prince Joffrey

Already counted under another angle.

  • Arya at King’s Landing’s court

Hero: Arya. Mentors: Jon Snow and Stark (who gave or let her use a sword). Mentor and Helper: Syrio Forel. Antagonists: the Lannisters.
Arya on the run

Hero: Arya. Goal: to escape the Lannisters. Mentor: an anonymous man. Antagonists: the Lannisters.

  • Arya at the service of Tywin Lannister, helped by Jaqen H’ghar

Hero: Arya. Goal: not to be discovered by Tywin. Antagonist and Mentor: Tywin.

Hero: Jaqen H’ghar. Goal: to eliminate 3 persons on Arya’s command. Mentor: Arya. Antagonists: the persons named by Arya.

Robb Stark

  • Robb good son

Hero: Robb. Goal: to be a good family leader in the absence of his father. Antagonists: far away, the Lannisters, and close, the wildlings, including Osha.

  • Robb warlord

Hero: Robb. Goal: to fight his enemies. Helpers: his army, his loyal lords including Theon. Antagonists: the Lannisters, Walder Frey.

  • Robb in love

Hero: Robb. Goal: to marry Talisa. Antagonist or skeptical: Catelyn who opposes it.

Catelyn Stark

  • Catelyn in family

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to be a good mother.
Catelyn welcomes the King

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to face the situation and welcome the King and Queen.

  • Catelyn watches Winterfell over

Hero: Catelyn. Helpers: Robb, Luwin. Goal: to watch over them and Winterfell.

  • Catelyn against the Lannisters

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to warn Stark that the Lannisters have tried to kill Bran. Antagonists: the Lannisters.

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to capture Tyrion. Helpers: some knights at her commands. Antagonist: Tyrion. Helper of the Antagonist: Bronn.

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to keep Tyrion prisoner to exchange him against the Stark daughters. Antagonist: Lysa Arryn. Goal of the Antagonist: to kill Tyrion.

Hero: Catelyn. Goal: to make Jaime prisoner. Helper: Brienne. Antagonist: Jaime.

Theon Greyjoy

  • The serf

Hero: Theon. Goal: to obey the Starks, to be part of their clan. Antagonists: the Starks, mostly Robb (who refuses Theon’s integration).

  • The traitor

Hero: Theon. Goal: to take Winterfell. Helpers: a few of his men. Skepticals: some of his men, his family. Antagonists: Bran, Rodrick, and one of his own soldiers who kills him.

The pretenders Baratheon

Renly

  • The illegitimate assassinated pretender

Hero: Renly. Goal: to be King. Helpers: his army. Antagonists: the Lannisters, and Stannis. Mentor of the Antagonist Stannis: Melisandre.

  • The lover

Hero: Renly. Goal: to make love with the Knight of the Flowers and not with Margery. Helper: Margery (who lets him free). Antagonist: the Knight of the Flowers (who asks him to sleep with Margery to be a good husband).

Stannis

  • The legitimate pretender

Hero: Stannis. Goal: to be King. Antagonists: the Lannisters, and Renly.

  • The satanic pretender

Hero: Stannis. Goal: to take the power by all necessary means. Mentor and Helper: Melisandre. Helpers: his army, and Davos. Antagonist: the Lannisters, Renly.

  • The warlord and the loser

Hero: Stannis. Goal: to conquer King’s Landing. Helpers: his fleet, and Davos. Antagonists: the royal army, the Lannisters, Tyrion.

The North, the Wall and the Night’s Watch

  • Massacred wildlings and massacred Night’s Watch

Hero: the scout. Goal: to warn about a massacre he witnessed, and to save his life. Antagonists: his superior who does not believe him, the ressurected corpses of the wildlings, the mysterious killers, the Night’s Watch who capture him and Stark who execute him.

  • Jon engages in the Night’s Watch

Hero: Jon. Goal: to enlist in the Night’s Watch. Helpers: Mormont, Samwell.

Antagonists: the dangers of the North, the white walkers, Allister, the companions of the Watch, Ygritte and the wildlings.

The white walkers and the supernatural phenomenons come back

Hero: giant wolves, killers of wildlings, white walkers. Goal: to kill, to invade Westeros. Antagonists: the Night’s Watch, Westeros.

Daenerys at Pentos

  • Viserys marries Daenerys to Drogo, hoping that Drogo’s army will conquer the Iron Throne for him

Hero: Daenerys. Mentor: Viserys. Goal: to marry Drogo and to use his army to the benefit of Viserys. Skeptical: Daenerys. Antagonist: none.

Hero: Viserys. Goal: to use his sister to reconquer his throne with Drogo’s army. Skepticals: Daenerys and Jorah. Antagonist: Drogo.
Daenerys reeducates Drogo sexuallly

Hero: Daenerys. Mentor: his servant. Goal: to have a better sex life with Drogo. Antagonist: Drogo’s sexual brutality.

  • Daenerys fails at curing Drogo who dies, and she delivers a monster, but she wins 3 baby dragons

Hero: Daenerys. Goal: to save Drogo from dying. Helper: the witch.

Skeptical: the dothraki warrior who wants to kill Daenerys and the witch too. Antagonists: the wound of Drogo, the dishonest witch.

  • Daenerys travels and crosses through a desert

Hero: Daenerys. Goal: to go to Westeros and claim the throne. Helpers: Jorah and the dothraki people. Antagonist: the fact they are lost in the desert.

  • Qarth

Hero: Daenerys. Goal: to find asylum, then get her stolen dragons back.

Helpers: Xaro, Jorah. Antagonists: the city councilman who blocks them at the gate, Pyat Pree, Xaro.

Counting of the actantial roles

We thus counted for those 40 major plots:

  • A total of around 174 actantial roles – which makes a bit more of 4 characters involved in each plot in average and playing an effective actantial role in it.
  • A total of 67 characters taking at least one actantial role along the 2 first seasons, so that each actantial character holds 3 roles in average.

And just remember that we counted only the major plots, leaving aside many mini-plots which probably would double our numbers.

67 actantial characters and 174 actantial roles, these are huge numbers: managing such a quantity of information and animate so many lives is reserved to the great professionals of scriptwriting.

There is much to learn from a study of these actantial roles.

Dominant characters

It clearly appears that a fistful of key-characters cumulate most of the roles.

Let us recap, by decreasing order:

  • Catelyn 14 roles
  • Ed Stark 8 roles
  • The Lannisters 7 roles
  • Cersei 7 roles
  • Tyrion 7 roles
  • Joffrey 7 roles
  • Robb 7 roles
  • Stannis 5 roles
  • Arya 5 roles
  • Sansa 5 roles
  • Jaime 4 roles
  • Bran 4 roles
  • Robert 3 roles
  • Renly 4 roles
  • Daenerys 3 roles

In total, these 14 characters (less than one quarter of the total) cumulate 83 roles (that is, half of the total).

This analysis highlights a reality that we can perceive while watching the series: the dramatic core of Game of Thrones tells the conflict between the Houses Stark (6 major characters) and Lannister (5 major characters: Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion, Joffrey and the Lannisters as collective character).

Indeed, the other Houses have few representatives in these first plan characters: the Baratheons have 3 characters (Robert, Renly, Stannis) but 2 of them quickly perish and the third one is defeated. The Targaryen only have Viserys and Daenerys at the other side of Westeros. The Greyjoy only have Theon.

Did you enjoy Game of Thrones? Do you want to know how it was written? Then read our full analysis of Game of Thrones seasons 1 & 2 and improve your scriptwriting skills!

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